12 April, 2013

I gave my life to a Smart Phone...and now I want good old-fashioned offline fun!



For people like me who are extremely active on social media, sometimes you've got to wonder what kind of an impact that has on your actual life - you know, the one outside your smart phone.

As much as I am very active online  and can usually be found mid-tweet, I also invest a lot of energy into real activities in real life - working, running, netball, socialising, baking, eating, having tantrums, laughing too much and maintaining relationships, to name but a few. Yet while my use of social media hasn't stopped me from doing these other social activities, I have started wonder if it has had more of an impact than I realise.

Social media is a habit I have fallen into. I was always an easy target for Mark Zuckerberg - I started university in 2005, 1 year after Facebook was launched purely for University networks. I was bang in the middle of the Facebook boom. Combine that with the fact I have an addictive personality, I am super sociable, I love a good bit of personal endorsement (which is effectively what we get every time we see that little red notification) and I love to have my say - I never stood a chance against the social media phenomenon that has changed the face of socialising. My friend Lotty became personally responsible for not only my lifestyle but my actual career path that 2005 day she said to me 'you have to go on Facebooook (she's Geordie), you can poke people and stuff!' and signed me up. Uh-oh...

I would never stop living my actual life in favour of living souly online, but I am definitely guilty of avoiding going out because I want to update my blog, of not paying attention to conversations with the the girls at work because I am distracted by twitter and of spending my time at social events absorbed in my Smart Phone world. But it's so prettyyyy! Ultimately, in making those small decisions and shutting out the world in front of me, I am choosing the life in my iPhone over the life outside of it, and that is bound to have some effect long-term.

I can't help wondering how different my life might be if I hadn't sometimes prioritised my digital life for my real one. That said, I am not complaining - I  have met so many fantastic people purely through Twitter (the only place you can instantly find like-minded people who want to share baking stories, go to blogger events with you and digitally cheer you on through your marathon training), Twitter is largely responsible for me finding my lobster and I get so much positivity out of being on these sites that I don't have regrets, but recently I have been forced to realise that if I were to go to far into that world, I could risk losing what's outside of it.

We need to maintain a balance, and the danger begins at the point we prioritise our online life over the world right in front of us. If you're talking to your friends and checking your twitter - stop! If you're constantly texting whilst spending quality time with someone important you - you better watch yourself! If you're failing to go to parties, the gym or even work,so you can stay home and blog (or simply Facebook stalk), then you risk missing the WHOLE WORLD. And that would be a shame.

The digital world is an easier way to socialise at times, there's less pressure, it takes less effort, you can be who you want, and as a result it can feel like the more tempting option, but the confidence and natural high you get from throwing yourself into real life, real social events, real activities where you risk falling over in front of everyone or saying something stupid  - that's what makes a person whole, and you need to do those things.

While I won't stop using social media any time soon and will for the foreseeable future continue to blog, tweet and update as furiously as I always have, I am going to be extra careful in the little decisions I make every day. I don't want to find myself ignoring conversations at work because I am 'in' my phone, I don't want to not see me friends because I'm writing an (awesome) blog post and I certainly don't want to live in a computer. I want to see the world, and not just through my camera phone, I want to enjoy a meal because I have eaten it not just because it got 12 likes on Instagram, I want to feel totally content on holiday, without feeling the need to share it with my 'following', because that's just not healthy, it's exhausting, and we're tired. Good old fashioned offline fun puts colour in your cheeks and fuel in your heart, and there just isn't room for anything digital there.

Next week is my birthday 'week' and I am so excited to see all the people and do all the things, and I really want to take it all in properly, without succumbing to the urge to digitalise everything as soon as it happens. Easier said than done, given that old habits die really, really hard. While I still want to share photos and tweet my excitement, I just want to make sure I don't forget to stand still and enjoy the moment first.

Because what is life if you're not in the moment?

x

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